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Director-General  José Graziano da Silva
A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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Building Resilience for Peace and Food Security

15 September 2017, Rome

The State of Food Security and Nutrition (SOFI) 2017:
Building Resilience for Peace and Food Security



Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD;
Mr. David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP;
Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the launch of SOFI 2017.

I would like to start by highlighting two innovations in the title of the report.

The acronym SOFI remains the same.

But we have decided to replace the expression food insecurity with food security.

And we have also included the word nutrition.

So the new name of the report now is: “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.”

From now on, SOFI will monitor not only the progress made towards ending hunger, but also the progress made in eliminating all forms of malnutrition not only in developing countries, but also in developed ones.

This way, the report will be in line with the Agenda 2030 and the targets 1 and 2 of Sustainable Development Goal number 2.

For instance, SOFI now reports on three SDG indicators of child malnutrition: stunting, wasting and overweight.

And in expanding the scope of SOFI, we have also expanded the partnerships in preparing the report.

I welcome UNICEF and WHO as partners in this work alongside the Rome-based Agencies.

I am glad that Mr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of W-H-O, and Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, have sent video messages for this occasion.

And I extend a warm welcome to Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD, and Mr. David Beasley, Executive-Director of WFP, who are with us here today.

Let me also mention that SOFI 2017 brings another innovation. 

For the first time, the report will provide two measures of food insecurity.

Now, FAO’s traditional indicator, called the Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU), is complemented by another indicator.

It is called the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES).  

FIES is based on direct interviews made with adult individuals to measure the ability of their families to access food.

This is different from the PoU, which measures the availability of food in a country.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

As I announced in the opening of the FAO Conference last July, the number of undernourished people in the world has increased from 2015 to 2016.

We have now the final numbers.

SOFI estimates that 815 million people suffered from hunger last year.

This represents an increase of 38 million people compared to 2015, when the number was 777 million, one of the lowest levels since FAO started measuring it.  

The prevalence of undernourishment has also increased.

It is now up to 11 percent of the world population, the same level of five years ago (2012).

This means that in 2016 one in nine people in the world was going to bed hungry.

This is strongly regrettable.

And this is happening just two years after all countries committed to eradicating hunger and extreme poverty by 2030.

The food security situation in the world has deteriorated mainly in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, South-Eastern Asia and Western Asia.

This was most notable in situations of conflict, and in particular where the impacts of conflict are combined with droughts and floods.

This is linked to the effects of El Niño, La Niña, and also the impacts of climate change.

In fact, this combination of conflict and drought is behind the fight against famine in South Sudan, Northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

In these countries, nearly 20 million people have been heavily affected.

And let’s never forget that when famine is declared, many people have already died.

Let me also draw your attention to the fact that worsening food security conditions have also been observed in more peaceful settings.

This is linked mainly to economic slowdown, growing rates of unemployment, decreased value of minimum wages, and also the deterioration of social protection nets.

This is the case, for instance, of some South American countries.

In this scenario, we may well see the return of hunger to countries where it had been eradicated or nearly so. 

Let me highlight that all countries have committed to leaving no one behind.

This is especially important in times of crises.

If a country is not doing well economically, it is fundamental to take care of the poor. They are the most affected.

Social protection is vital to save these people, and to give them hope.

Ladies and gentlemen,

SOFI 2017 focuses on the strong nexus between conflicts and food security.

About 60% of the 815 million people suffering from hunger live in countries affected by conflicts.

This is the same situation of 75% of the stunted children in the world.

Nowadays, many conflicts are being fought in the rural areas of developing countries.

As a result, agriculture and the livelihoods of the poorest people are directly damaged, causing more food insecurity and malnutrition.

Most of the time, these people have no option than moving elsewhere, increasing the numbers of forced migration and internal displacement.

Today, there are about 64 (sixty four) million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world.

This is twice the number of 10 years ago.

And let me remind you that the World Food Day next month is dedicated to the relationship between agriculture, food security and migration.


Before concluding, let me also highlight that  much of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) flowing to countries in conflict or protracted crisis is still focused on short-term responses of food assistance.

SOFI 2017 points out that we have to change this approach. We need to adopt a long-term vision.

We have to combine humanitarian assistance with development actions.

To save lives, we must invest in livelihoods.

This is the main conclusion of this report.

And this is the way forward to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty once and for all.

Thank you very much